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A Brief History of the Crusades: Islam and Christianity in the Struggle for World Supremacy (Brief Histories) Paperback – 25 Mar 2004

3.9 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Robinson (25 Mar. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841197661
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841197661
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.1 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 240,135 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book Description

Islam and Christianity and their ancient struggle for world supremacy

About the Author

Geoffrey Hindley (1935-2014), educated at Kingswood School, Bath and University College Oxford, is a lecturer and writer. He was three times an invited participant at the International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University; was visiting associate professor at the University of Florida, Gainesville; and lectured in Europe and America on European culture,
medieval social history and Magna Carta, and the history of music. From 1994 to 2000 he taught English civilization at the University of Le Havre. Right up until his death he was co-president of the Society for the History of Medieval Technology and Science of Oxford and London. His many books include The Shaping of Europe,
England in the Age of Caxton, The Book of Magna Carta, A Brief History of the Crusades and A Brief History of the Anglo-Saxons.


Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book, as remarked by the reviewers below is very concise, but what else would a `Brief History Of...' be if anything but?
The book does indeed pre-suppose some knowledge on the readers' part, but this is easily overcome by following Hindley's superb narrative.
One virtually flies through the centuries of conflict, and the key events are expanded upon.
It really is a very good starting point for the beginner, and will encourage the curios to further reading; Runciman's Magnum Opus on the Crusades or Christopher Tyreman's ambitious effort. However, if you do buy this and enjoy it as much as I have, I suggest The First Crusade by Thomas Asbridge as your next port of call.
Further, I would also encourage the reader not to interpret the Crusades in as contemporary sense as other reviewers may suggest, but `enjoy' the period in isolation.
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This is an easy-to-read, concise introduction to The Crusades over the centuries that manages to deal with the main issues in surprising depth. All the main players are here. Maybe there could have been a little bit more info on the battle tactics and a few more maps, but then again, it is a BRIEF history and it does it with panache.
Thankfully, Hindley also refuses to take the simplistic view of some of his peers that Western success was a foregone conclusion - it wasn't.
Definitely recommended for newcomers to the subject.
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Hindley's style as an historian is that of a story teller rather than an analyst. This makes the narrative fairly easy to follow, though the profusion of names were too much for this reader, so I only picked up a handful of details.

Hindley notes that certain conflicts carry an ordinal number to them, even though they do not reflect the actual number of skirmishes and battles. However, he chooses to stick with the conventional numbering, with more descriptive titles for those that are not afforded a number.

What follows is an account of conquest, bloodshed and ideology. As informative as it is with regards to the personalities and the large scale military aims of each side, I could not help but think that there was a lack of critique about the motivations behind the Crusades. There are a few references dotted about, mostly towards the end of the book, but these are few and far between. For example, he states:

"The ideal which had first inspired men to go on armed pilgrimage to reclaim the Holy Land for Christendom had always been a matter of mixed motives,"

"...the wars fought in the name of religion became increasingly embroiled in politics and the rhetoric of crusade became part of the vocabulary of international diplomacy."

Early in the book, Hindley notes that the Crusades were not endorsed by all catholics, with Thomas Aquinas opposing such ventures. This is, I think, quite significant as he was probably the most influential thinker in christianity & catholicism in the millennium between Augustine and Martin Luther. This demonstrates that then to regard this as "christian v muslim" is to oversimplify affairs.
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Format: Paperback
I am currently reading History at university, with particular emphasis on the Medieval world. My personal area of expertise is the history of Medieval France and Britain, however over the last few years I have developed a fascination with the Holy Land, largely borne out of living in such a multicultural country (Britain). Though it is now muted in comparison to the past, I have still witnessed a sense of Christianity vs Islam in my country; largely people defending Britain as a Christian country in the wake of mass migration over the past 150 years. The sort of inquisitive nature I possess led me to discover the route of this animosity, and the starting point was this book, which I have now owned for a few years. Even so, it remains my first port of call for any Crusades-related knowledge, as it is succinctly presented in such a linear and streamlined fashion that Hindley has created the ultimate starting block for any avid Crusader historian.

I would certainly recommend this book - especially when you consider the price - as it offers a comprehensive overview of one of history's most controversial periods. Not only this, but Hindley's writing compels you to explore in greater detail, and since purchasing this book I have upgraded my own collection of Crusades-related literature to quite a healthy quota!

A definite 5/5 from me.
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Got this to read as I played through Assassin's Creed as I realised embarrassingly just how little I knew about the crusades.
Good solid book with enough depth and detail to satisfy. More maps would be good though.
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Format: Paperback
I am very impressed by this book. It is very informative and coherently describes a rather confusing period in history. For a "brief history" it contains a large amount of facts and details that distinguish the characters and make the events memorable for the reader. It is also very readable, a real page-turner; I can hardly put it down! What I do miss are more maps.
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